Friday, March 28, 2008

Surely Someone was Jesting?

Somewhere in the posts written about a hundred years ago on being from out of town, I mentioned that when my family moved to New York and my parents went to Williamsburg to go shopping for Pesach (THE shopping venue back then) my father brought home a roll of toilet paper to show us. It had a hechsher for Pesach. He was stupefied.

In an old movie starring Cary Grant as the commander of a submarine (Operation Petticoat)there is a scene where he is dictating a letter to the central command about a missing order of toilet paper. He is clearly frustrated that they somehow haven't delivered this necessary item and he ends by asking "If the item is unknown to you and not available just what are you using as a substitute?"

Cleaning the bathroom brought my dad's experience and the movie together in my mind for a moment. I'm still stunned that someone put a hechsher on toilet paper, but the following question did pop into my mind: If the stores in Williamsburg would have run out of the "kosher" toilet paper then what were people going to use as a substitute? Were they going to go without for all of Pesach? Okay, clearly the cleanser fumes are affecting me strangely, but haven't we possibly just maybe gone just a tad overboard when toilet paper gets a hechsher?

On another posting there was a tongue in cheek thread of comments about whether crushed charcoal needs a hechsher for Pesach. What's next? A hechsher on dirt? Are we heading towards making all backyards ossur for use on Pesach? Is it going to become ossur to drive during chol hamoed past a factory that produces chometz or kitniyos because the smoke coming from the smokestack just might waft a particle of chometz towards us which we might have land on us? Is it ossur to fly in a plane that clearly has chometz on board and which has clearly not been cleaned with kashrus standards in mind? Ditto for subway trains and buses?

We may be laughing at all this now, but what if......?


Anonymous said...

I draw the line at toilet paper. Can just see one rav arguing that brand X is more kosher then brand Z. Then another rav would get into it and say that both the others are wrong and only the MO use X or Z--only brand Q is acceptable for truly frum people. And then the machlokes will bubble over and someone will write a kol koreh banning one brand as not being in keeping with the kedusha of am yisroel. Come to think about it, there are already a lot of those "toilet paper" issues already out there.

I suggest opening a window in the bathroom if the fumes are affecting you this badly.

Anonymous said...

So that really happened, it's not just an apocryphal story, huh?

Let me guess.

I bet it was a 'heimishe hechsher' too ?

ProfK said...

In Williamsburg what else could it be but a heimishe hechsher? For sure it wasn't the OU. My dad only bought the paper so he could bring it to show us and so he could then explain that there are real differences between halacha, chumra and just plain craziness.

Gila said...

Well, you know here, they have poseked that the tap water is not kosher l'pesach. Because people throw bread into the Kineret on Rosh Hashanah. Hello! The fishies eat the bread! And the water is filtered!

Wait....that is no longer kosher l'pesach. Bye bye gefilte fish.

Anonymous said...

Well, my husbands works with Bobov guy who says that fish is not kosher for Pesach because you don't know what that fish just ate. He claim that this particular mishigus (my word not his) came from Europe. It is the same guy who doesn't eat garlic on Pesach, because in the old country they used to store garlic together with hametz to survive a winter.

As far as toilet paper hachshar is concerned, there are people who insist on having hechsher on everything, this way they don't have to think. By everything they include apples, potatos and so on. I actually heard them say it. No embarrasement either. They did not see anything wrong with that statement.

And since we know that there is a market for all kinds of idiots, then someone takes adventage of it and markets it.

Anonymous said...

What we'll do is ignore such people and live authentic Jewish lives as opposed to 'heimishe' lives...

Actually, I think things are going in the opposite direction (in some circles) now that R' Blumenkrantz a'h is no longer writing Pesach books. The OU has said things like shampoo and washing detergent can be used without a Pescah hechsher even if they contain chometz...

Anonymous said...

We were at someones home for lunch one Shabbos after Sukkos and a few bochrim who were there were seriously talking about marketing kosher for Pesach pet foods, since they seem to present a problem. They figured they could probably make enough money not to have to really work the rest of the year. I looked now to see if they actually went through with it and I don't see anything, but I really would have loved to see which rav was going to put his name on Kitty litter and Little Friskies.

Judith said...

There has been kosher L'Pesach Pet foods for a long time now (over 10 years) both in Israel and the US.

Anonymous said...

My mother knew a woman who got divorced because of the way her husband treated her. One incident I can't forget is that he decided one year that she had to scrub the driveway on hands and knees before Pesach; she was 8 months pregnant. I suppose it would have been bittul Torah for him to do it.

I have seen water with a hechsher, as well as paper goods of all kinds.

When my oldest was in kindergarten he carefully explained to me how he learned that every thing needs a pesach hechsher, and proceeded to grill me about a banana.

I can see the pet food problem. Most pet food contains chametz, and we have had trouble keep rodents healthy over Pesach.

Batya said...

It can get funny. That's why I wrote how my dog Awol helped me.

Anonymous said...

Found a great recipe online for homemade dog food and substituted whole wheat matza crushed for the wheat in the recipe. No more chometz problem. Our dog must like it because he waits by his bowl and growls if you aren't fast enough in putting the food in. For birds you have a problem I guess.

Anonymous said...

We go by Blumenkranz book. Saves lots of money for Pesach and has explanations as to why somethings is kosher or not. In addition he always has cute things in there that are fun to read. For example soaking tired feet in tea. Never tried it, though.

His how to kosher suggestions are off the wall, sometimes, but then he goes and gives something realistic about the same subject.

Here what he said about fish. Fish food is hometz, so you need to empty out your tank completely, wash each and every stone, castle, crevice carefully, and then feed your fish matzah meal only.

OR, change water as usual 30 days prior to pasach and make sure your fish is fed only warms.

OR, give your fish a 10 day feeder and sell the whole tank.

Why did he even bother with the first one? Especially since your fish will die, if you change ALL the water and wash everything in the tank. They do need bacteria in the water to survive.

Jack Steiner said...

Oy. Some of this just goes too far.